Before Al Pacino and Tony Montana there was the real Scarface, Al Capone. In this Gangster of the Week we profile this legendary American-Italian gangster who ho led a Chicago based Prohibition-era crime syndicate, the “Capones.” Al Capone knew the importance of a strong public persona and was always ready with a smile and a quip.
The Capones business was fueled by smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931. Although he is one of the most legendary gangsters in history, Capone quickly understood the importance of civic engagement in the industry of organized crime. He opened soup kitchens and handed out tickets for ballgames to underprivileged kids. Why? Because he was a good guy, sure, but he also knew that one day he might need a sympathetic jury to recall these good deeds.
Having had such a illustrious and well documented career in organized crime has ensured that Al Capone remain one of the most beloved bad guys the world has ever seen.
At one time, Al Capone had just about every influential person in the state of Illinois in his pocket. He found his niche in bootlegging and knew that just because the government said booze was a no-no, people were gonna find ways to get their hands on it. He would be there to provide it, and then reap the financial rewards. Prohibition was the opportunity that all gangsters were waiting for, and Al Capone had greased so many hands by that point that he virtually controlled the industry and could act with impunity. He ended up serving time in Alcatraz for tax evasion, but not before he amassed a fortune.
Al Capone’s ring of producing and smuggling moonshine was lucrative beyond belief. The History Channel reported that the Capones made an estimated $100 per minute. Considering the value of the US currency by today’s standards, that would make his profit estimate at $1,000 per minute in 2012. Annually, Al Capone made about sixty million dollars per year $60,000,000 on which he paid no income or other taxes at a time when skilled workers made about one thousand dollars per year $1,000. In 1927 Capone was worth a reported $100,000,000. During the roaring 20′s this amount of money was unfathomable to 75% of the world.
The Real Scarface
Even though “Scarface” was his most well-known nickname, Capone’s closest friends called him “Snorky.” Incognito gangster at heart, Al Capone’s business card said he was a used furniture dealer. Capone got his “Scarface” nickname after a bar brawl in Coney Island that left him with three large slashes on the left side of his face. Capone’s specially-outfitted, bullet-proof Cadillac was seized by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1932 and later used by the government as Franklin Roosevelt’s limousine.
The mental capacity of a 12-year-old
While spending his final days in a prison cell on multiple sentences, he suffered from a mental and physical decline as a result of neurosyphilis, a Baltimore psychiatrist and Capone’s personal physician performed tests that showed his mental capability had diminished to that of a 12-year-old. Al Capone subsequently died from a heart-attack believed to be brought on from third-stage syphilis, which he contracted at a young age.